In the digital age, email has been crowned king as a practical way to communicate between individuals. Email is the primary tool that HOA directors utilize for Association communication such as setting dates and times for meetings, distributing information, or communicating with the Community Manager on project statuses. These emails can add up into the hundreds over the course of a volunteer’s term and are often being sent from the director’s personal or work email accounts. This may not be the best practice when serving on a board of directors. There are many reasons that personal and work email accounts should not be the primary account for Association business. This article explains the number one reason why a separate email should strongly be considered by Boards.
Being pulled into costly litigation is every community’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that along with litigation often comes the subpoena of the acting directors’ email accounts. The summons of emails are not limited to only those that pertain to the Association or Board and will in fact mandate all emails, including those personal in nature to be subject to review by the plaintiff. A tenacious board member may think it’s a good idea to stay up until 3 AM deleting every email that may be deemed personal but an equally persistent lawyer may be curious to the fact there was something to hide. Computer technicians are able to “clone” an entire system and just because an email has been deleted doesn’t make it vanish into the depths of an email graveyard. These emails can be retrieved if a prosecuting attorney is diligent enough to keep digging to find what they feel you may be hiding.
In order to avoid turning over all of your personal emails in the event of a lawsuit, a Board can elect to create separate email accounts to be used exclusively for association business. This process is rather easy and there are multiple options to do so, such as free email services offered by Google, Yahoo, Hotmail or others. jsmithABCHOA@gmail.com is an example of what a separate Board email through a free email host could look like. The only caution against this method is using a generic name such as “president@,” because that account will be unusable once that Director leaves.
Another option is to use your Associations’ website domain to create email accounts which would be specific to the community and easily changed when Directors rotate out of positions (ex. Jsmith@ABCHOA.com). In the event the account has to be turned over to a third party, using either of these options would involve only Association emails while protecting a Director’s personal emails.
If your community currently has an active website managed by AAM, our Business Solutions department can help create email addresses for your Directors. There is a small cost associated for account setup, maintenance and support, but we feel this cost is worth the peace of mind. If your board is interested in creating Association specific emails, please contact your Community Manager for more information.